“The Historic Jean Bonnet Tavern” by Niccolo Bechtler

         "The Historic Jean Bonnet Tavern"

In the morning I sip coffee
with my feet propped on the railing
of the second-floor balcony
of the Historic Jean Bonnet Tavern,
where I spent the night in a hard cot 
wrapped in sheets the color of apple pie.
Zip ties hoist a flag bunting beneath the rail.

It’s the Fourth of July, and already baking out. 
My seat overlooks two highways: 
the two-lane U.S. Route 30
and the four-lane Interstate 70.
Freight trucks trundle past.

In the 1760s, colonists could walk 
a dirt path across what is now
called Pennsylvania, and—
according to a paragraph on the back of the menu—
see the lamplit Tavern arise
from the darkened hills and waver
like a spring on the horizon, 
taste the promise of golden ale.

As I sit, a Fedex truck jake-brakes 
having spotted a perched police cruiser. 
A straightpiped Civic downshifts away 
a flock of sparrows 
as the leathered-up Harley couples roll 
in for lunch. At the next balcony over,
someone is smoking a cigarette.

A stiff gust blows past
and snaps the zip tied bunting free.
As the flag flies
over the parking lot, I can almost see
the eroded travelers, their staunch
woolen coats, the conviction
they cradled like lace.
The smoke dissipates.
Perched on the powerlines,
the sparrows return.

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